FARGO — A crack in a beam above Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre’s stage in downtown Fargo first moved performances temporarily, but the damage has worsened, making the building unsafe to enter, and the fate of the building remains unknown.
The local theater troupe, which operates out of The Stage at Island Park, 333 Fourth St. S., announced over the weekend that it was canceling its Dec. 14 and 15 performances of "A Christmas Carol" after a structural issue was discovered last Saturday morning. On Monday, FMCT said it would move its upcoming performances of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to another venue as an assessment looked for the scope of the structural problem.
“The situation escalated between Monday and Tuesday, as the catwalk system has begun to sag inward,” FMCT said Thursday, Dec. 19, in a news release. “Not knowing when or how this would affect the rest of the building, engineers urged on Tuesday that the entire building be vacated. The City of Fargo has since marked the building as unsafe and unlawful to enter at the present time.”
All future activities have been moved away from the 52-year-old theater, FMCT Executive Director Eloise Breikjern said in a statement. The cause of the destruction is unknown at this time.
“This was completely unexpected, out-of-the-blue even,” Breikjern said. “We didn’t know about anything that would have led us to make and changes. But we are grateful that no one was injured, and no significant equipment has been damaged.”
FMCT has temporarily relocated to Studio 6 Broadway, its secondary location at 6 Broadway N., and office hours have resumed as usual. Performances of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" will be held at Concordia College's Francis Frazier Comstock Theatre in Moorhead throughout the weekend.
The troupe said it continues to work with construction experts to develop a plan on how to handle the setback. A final decision on the future of the building hasn't yet been made.
In addition, FMCT said it's partnered with KFGO-AM to record a radio version of “A Christmas Carol,” which will be broadcast locally on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Despite the setbacks, artistic director Adam Pankow said he is optimistic.
“There have been some tears shed, there is such a strong connection to that space, but at the end of the day it is just a building,” Pankow said in the news release. “The crumbling of a building does not mean the crumbling of an organization. There are a lot of really smart and passionate people working together to get us back on our feet, and wherever we land, it will still feel like a home because it will still be FMCT.”
"I think the people need to know that FMCT is alive and active we have been working all day to find alternatives for the season," Breikjern said. "Our theater is alive and well."
To keep up with the troupe, visit www.fmct.org.